WASHINGTON (AP) — District of Columbia Republican leaders are looking for candidates to run for mayor and the D.C. Council, despite having no candidates on the ballot during last week's primary.
Any Republican candidate faces long odds in a city where Democrats make up 76 percent of registered voters and Republicans are stuck at 6 percent. But Ron Phillips, the D.C. Republican Party chairman, says it's more attractive to potential candidates to run in just the general election rather than having to spend a year campaigning.
D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser won last week's Democratic mayoral primary, defeating incumbent Vincent Gray. That makes her the favorite to prevail in November, but she faces a legitimate challenger in Councilmember David Catania, an independent. Catania left the Republican Party in 2004 and has a progressive record on many issues.
All the elected mayors in the nation's capital have been Democrats, and there have been no Republican members of the D.C. Council since Carol Schwartz lost in a 2008 primary.
Phillips said it's too early to say who might run as a Republican this year. He's been assured by the D.C. Board of Elections that according to city law, a candidate can run in the general election to fill the vacancy on the ballot if no one ran in the primary and no one filed as a write-in candidate. The deadline for write-in candidates was Friday.
"We look forward to vetting qualified candidates to appoint to various vacancies on the ballot this fall," Phillips said in a statement to The Associated Press. He said Republican candidates' priorities would include school choice, lower taxes and reducing regulations on small businesses.
Phillips said the party was not in a position to field viable candidates in time for the April 1 primary.
"I'm rebuilding the Republican Party," he said. "Now we're in a position where we can do some quality candidate recruitment."
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